Caterham has been synonymous with the Lotus Seven car ever since Lotus decided to end production and move on to green pastures. But today, because of Ford, Caterham is getting rid of models. More on that coming up, but before, let’s delve into Caterham’s history.
In 1957, the Colin Chapman-founded Lotus Cars launched the Lotus Seven. It was as simple a roadster as it could be, and hailed as an enthusiast’s sports car from start. It was affordable, light in weight, and came with a simple engine that still managed to take it fast. The Lotus Seven remained in production till the early ‘70s, after which Chapman moved on. All through this time, Caterham Cars had been a major dealer for the Lotus Seven/7, and in 1973, decided to buy the rights to produce this very iconic sports car once the discontinuation was announced.
The Caterham 7 was initially a Lotus 7 Series 4 but moved to a Series 3 because that was more popular. In 1974 itself, Caterham managed to build and sell 21 cars, only one of which carried a 1.9-liter Alfa Romeo engine, the rest being Ford 1.6-liter power mills. 2007 marked the 50th year of the Lotus/Caterham 7 sports car and it still finds strong support in the roadster-loving community of not just the UK, but all over.
But now, some of the Caterham models are being dropped because of Ford, and the reason may not be what you think. Here’s what we know of Caterham cars and what the future holds for them…
Caterham and Its Models Today
Since 2006, Caterham Cars has been run by an ex-Lotus management team, which is rather fitting for a company that makes a living reproducing Lotus Cars. Rather, specifically, the Lotus 7 in its many variants. In a turnabout, its biggest Japanese importer, VT Holdings, bought it outright earlier this year. After 48 years of British ownership, Caterham and all its models now have a Japanese owner.
Currently, along with the Lotus 7, Caterham also makes a limited 25-unit annual production run of the SP/300R, a track-only model. It once also had the Series 21, the latter of which did not sell all that well.
As far as the future of the Seven is concerned, ex-racing legend and the CEO of VT Holdings, Kazuho Takahashi said, “We have not only purchased a globally renowned performance car manufacturer but [also] become custodians of a motoring legend. We will protect and develop the Seven to meet the legislative challenges that lie ahead.”
So Why Did Caterham Drop Models Because Of Ford?
Caterham has dropped the 270 model and the Super Seven 1600 from its lineup because of Ford. Not because Ford has a problem with Caterham, but because Ford’s Sigma 1.6-liter engine that went into powering these models has finally bowed out. This engine has been powering the medium Sevens since 2006, after the Rover K-Series died, along with its car, the MG Rover. The Ford 1.6-liter engine made 120-150 horsepower and is also used for Caterham’s entry-level Academy race cars, which will keep using this engine till 2022.
Of course, the Caterham Seven will continue to be made, in its different iterations. For now, the Suzuki Kei engine will power the Caterham Seven 170R model with all 660-cc of displacement, making 85 horses or so and costing £22,900.
The rest of the Caterham Sevens, in 360, 420, and 620 models will continue to use Ford’s 2.0-liter Duratec engine, making 180, 210, and 310 horses, respectively, ranging from £31,490 to £50,390.
There is hope for the Caterham 270 model though because, in 2022, there will be a new sub-150-horsepower version of Ford 2.0-liter Duratec that will be duly homologated and be available for the uptake.
Meanwhile, Caterham Continues To Scale The Skies
Of course, it’s not as if Caterham is sobbing into a cup of tea because of Ford. To celebrate the arrival of its lowest-powered and lightest model yet, the Caterham Seven 170R, Caterham pulled off a publicity stunt atop one of the UK’s tallest tourist spots, the British Airways i360 pod.
It stands 162 meters tall and is taller than the London Eye and Big Ben. It’s a 450-meter platform, encased in glass, and open to run unique events where the guests get a 360-degree view of the UK’s southern coast. Its latest guest was a Caterham 170, where engineers built it by hand in six hours. Proof that the Caterham 170 is not just cool but also very light. And the perfect marketing drive for a new pop-up dealership inside the i360 pod. Pretty innovative, just like the Caterham Seven 170R, a sports car that’s also a Kei car.
In other news, Caterham has joined the EV revolution as well, and by 2023, plans to launch the Electric Seven, an EV roadster that will still be as fast and light on its feet as are all other Caterham Sevens. Caterham is certainly going places with the Seven, with to without Ford.
Sources: Jalopnik, Autocar.co.uk, Motor1
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